What are our federal election candidates promising for safer cycling in the Blue Mountains?
With less than two weeks to go before the election on May 21, the lead candidates in Macquarie have pledged little for cyclists.
Susan Templeman has pledged $1.8M to fund a shared path between Winmalee High School and Hawkesbury Lookout.
Sarah Richards has so far not promised any new funding for active transport in the Blue Mountains but has pledged $11.2M for local roads in the Hawkesbury area. It is not clear whether any of these proposed local road upgrades will include shared paths so Hawkesbury families have a safe place to walk and ride.
People who choose to cycle or would like cycle in the Blue Mountains are concerned that there are few safe places in the urban/ built environment which they feel safe to ride, there are few shared paths and the local road network is narrow and road shoulders are often non-existent.
We have had discussions with Ms Templeman and Ms Richards about our campaign for an active transport network which will make safe cycling available to all across the Blue Mountains. We are campaigning for an integrated safe, high quality active transport network linking town centres and other key amenities and a traffic movement corridor. When joined up the links will form a network between Penrith and Mt Victoria and destinations on the Bells Line of Road. The Glenbrook Tunnel, currently being cleared and remediated by the Council, and the proposed upper mountains cycleway between Katoomba and Blackheath (which in the design phase as part of TfNSW’s duplication of the highway) will form part of this network.
The network will require Commonwealth support to be built. What we have not seen this election from either of the major parties so far is how they intend to fund transport infrastructure in the Blue Mountains including funding active transport networks. So far the Commonwealth has committed $2 billion to the duplication of the Great Western Highway but more funds will be required to complete the duplication project. Commonwealth contributions to transport infrastructure in the Blue Mountains, however, must also be used to fund measurers which offset increased traffic numbers and an expected doubling of the heavy freight task.
The Blue Mountains Cycling Safety Forum has invited Ms Templeman and Ms Richards to articulate how they think Commonwealth funding can be used to strike a balance between the highway’s function as a movement corridor for traffic and freight whilst preserving the Blue Mountains as a place people want to live and visit. We ask that future Commonwealth funding to the NSW Government for road transport infrastructure drive these outcomes together with a robust, resilient and safe local road network; adequate road shoulders for vulnerable road users; off-highway shared paths which connect town centres;
schools; railway stations; popular trail heads for mountain biking and bushwalking; and provide safe highway crossings for cyclists and pedestrians and options for moving some of the freight task onto rail.